Democrats annoyed by Spanish-language radio attacks on Kamala Harris
“The fact that I have to sound the alarm, that it is not coming directly from a Democratic organization or even from people in Washington, I think is a sign of concern,” said Fernand Amandi, a political strategist. who helped Barack Obama. gain the state in 2008 and 2012.
Amandi said the calls struck her as “weird because [Harris] is not much of a topic of conversation down here. The focus is still on the Democrats as a party, on Biden, the local officials. “
On-air critics, according to him and others, range from claims that Harris is ineffective and ill-prepared to serve as president, to seemingly sexist and racist suggestions, including that his own Jamaican and Indian heritage leads him to prioritize the problems of black Americans. on the concerns of Latinos.
Amandi said he changed the channel to another station and overheard another caller “talking about Kamala Harris, and they [said] the same thing. – It’s the woman who didn’t do anything. She was a different person from the other [station]. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, they have a bank of phones.’ “
There is no definitive evidence of a coordinated campaign attacking Harris on South Florida Radio, as opposed to organic criticism of her conveyed by regular callers.
POLITICO independently recorded and reviewed local program segments via radio station webcasts. In one, a man can be heard describing Harris as “ineffective” and “disappointing”, adding that the vice president “does nothing at all.” The same interlocutor jumped from one point to another before finally accusing the administration of mismanaging the economy. In recent days, a POLITICO reporter has also heard callers on other Miami-based Spanish-language programs using similar phrases to describe Harris.
In POLITICO’s review of two prominent Spanish-language stations, hosts and callers sharing criticisms of Biden consistently outnumbered Harris. There have also been sporadic attacks on Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser.
Still, Roberto Rodríguez Tejera, a morning radio host who has worked in Miami media for three decades, said in a phone interview that he too noticed the trend of calls about Harris on his own morning show. He came to the same conclusion as Amandi that they are probably coordinated. He did not identify any suspects but speculated that the Republicans were behind them.
“It’s not like you get 10 calls a day. It is not like that. You get a few calls here, a few calls there, ”Rodriguez said. “This is how phone banks start [have] worked, ”he added, noting how political agents over the years have directed specific messages through callers in radio programs. “But it’s a trend that you see growing day by day; grows from week to week.
A spokesperson for the Florida Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment.
Curiosity as to who may be behind Harris’s targeting on radio is due, in part, to the belief that Republicans are trying to politically bleed her if Biden does not stand for reelection. Last year, Biden himself faced disinformation and partisan propaganda in Spanish in the state through WhatsApp chats, Facebook pages and popular radio shows.
Despite decades of being elected in California, Harris is still relatively new to the national scene, which means there is plenty of room to define her in the eyes of voters.
“They start early. “We have to start attacking her now and make her look like a demon.” “And the problem with that is, the Democratic Party doesn’t realize this story originated in Miami-Dade County, and it will spread to other Hispanics across the United States,” Sasha said. Tirador, a Democratic agent in Florida.
Tirador said that if the party doesn’t start to turn the tale upside down as it swells, it will be next to impossible to “convince all those old people and your typical Hispanics who just listen to AM radio as what they want. have listened to this “Kamala is bad” is not true in three months, which Democrats like to do. They like to step in at the last minute and campaign, and that’s why it doesn’t work.
Quick-release reviews have long been a staple of Florida politics. They have evolved with technology, allowing agents to quickly broadcast talking points from mobile phone applications to callers and influential talk radio programs.
The tactic has been used by both Republicans and Democrats in previous election cycles as a means of reaching Latino voters. And talk radio in particular, said program hosts and consultants, has been a powerful way to connect with an older, recent immigrant audience who generally prefer it to reading local newspapers because of the sense of connection they have. it provides them.
Emiliano Antunez, a Florida agent who has worked for both Democrats and Republicans in the state, called it an “open secret” that the parties use telephone banks and confirmed that he was “asked to do these things every once in a while [they say] “Hey, you know where we want to create this buzz about that person or that person. “
While Florida Democrats have said they worry about the toll such attacks would have on Harris, they also see the lack of response as the latest disturbing sign the party is divesting from a swing state that has become the home port of former President Donald Trump and his MAGA Movements.
“It’s like watching a termite crawl on the wooden beams of your house,” Amandi said of Harris Calls. “One may be nothing, but it can also be a sign that there is a colony slowly but steadily eating away at the foundations. It is better to investigate and deal with the situation than to just walk in a day and see your house completely collapse. “
Party leaders and members have acknowledged they have work to do with Latinos in the state, including continuing to push back against claims the party embraces socialism.
Some have argued that they need to find a new way to prepare their own offensive against Republicans against threats to democracy, a point they believe may be of importance given the GOP’s challenges to the 2020 election results. .
The Democratic National Committee has dedicated researchers to tracking disinformation and propaganda targeting Hispanic and Latin American communities in English and Spanish, and has commissioned polls to measure the impact of disinformation. Party officials reiterated their commitment to communicate the facts to Latin American communities. And they’ve already had several conversations with social media companies – especially WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta, formerly known as Facebook – encouraging them to take more responsibility for disinformation on their platforms.
Asked about Harris’ calls, DNC spokesman Ammar Moussa said it was “not surprising that there was a seemingly coordinated campaign to attack him with thinly veiled sexist and racist defamations. – this is something she’s been faced with her entire career. The Americans know the vice president is up to them and they will see through this campaign of lies. “
Moussa added that Harris has been a “critical partner” to Biden on infrastructure, creating millions of jobs and working to find solutions to fix the immigration system.
The White House declined to comment.
The diversity of Florida’s Latino population – emerging blocs of people of Puerto Rican, Nicaraguan, Colombian, Dominican and Venezuelan descent who lean Democrat to its large Republican-leaning Cuban community in Miami-Dade – remains a major focus of political campaigns in the state. Miami has long been seen as a pilot market for messaging Latino voters, with more powerful content often exported to other parts of the country.
Democrats have acknowledged that the recent wave of attention to Harris may be a so-called ‘Made in Miami’ phenomenon that is gaining little traction outside of South Florida, but some believe it could also indicate the type of effort that are already happening under the radar. in Spanish-language media in other states or a harbinger of what’s to come elsewhere.
Florida Democrats stressed that they weren’t so worried about die-hard Tories hitting Harris in their own echo chambers, as they were about the possible upturn their comments might have with voters less. supporters and recent immigrants, who are not so steeped in the news.
Harris has a history of working with Latinos and on Latino issues in his home state of California. When she ran for the Senate against a Latina in 2016, she insisted to her campaign advisers that she needed to win the Latin vote in the state, attracting the first supporters of big names. of the work icon Dolores Huerta. In this race, Harris’ opponent, then Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), Got hot after appearing on a Spanish-language show and suggested that President Barack Obama may have backed Harris because both are black. Harris asked Sanchez to apologize.
In the Senate, Harris devoted his first-floor speech to criticizing Trump over immigration and focused his efforts on protecting young immigrant “dreamers”. She broke with most of her own party to vote closely against a legislative deal that would have provided billions of dollars in funding for Trump’s border wall along the Mexican border in return for access to citizenship for dreamers.
Earlier this year, she caught the heat of some left when, on a high-profile visit to Guatemala, she told migrants considering heading to the southern US border: “Don’t come. Harris made the trip as the president’s contact on the causes of the southern border migration, and she echoed the Biden administration’s talking points on the issue, but it still disappointed many. immigration activists. At the same time, it has come under attack from Republicans over southern border issues resulting from the United States’ patchwork approach to immigration.